Upper Saucon Township and Coopersburg area motorists will likely be happy to know that the Blue Church Road bridge finally opened Monday.
The new bridge replaces an 85-year-old span that was closed to traffic after it was severely damaged by flooding in the summer of 2018. Construction efforts were threatened by legal battles last year, as well as this year’s COVID outbreak.
“Work on all PennDOT projects was stalled due to COVID-19 mitigation protocols,” Ronald Young, a spokesperson for PennDOT, announced in a press release about the bridge’s opening.
However, because the project was deemed an emergency, PennDOT staff completed the work on an accelerated schedule, while taking necessary safety precautions to mitigate the spread of the virus.
“Work on this project (was) in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and state Department of Health guidance as well as a project-specific COVID-19 safety plan, which (included) protocols for social distancing, use of face coverings, personal and job-site cleaning protocols, management of entries to the jobsite and relevant training,” Young said.
Work on the project resumed May 1, when PennDOT construction projects statewide were permitted to resume.
HNTB Corporation of Kansas City, Mo., led design efforts for the project, while Fabcor Inc. of Jessup, Pa., served as the general contractor. The former bridge was a 12-foot long by 25-foot wide concrete slab. It was replaced with a 14-foot long by 28-foot wide aluminum bridge costing $524,180.
“There were many people who worked diligently to expedite this project and get it completed,” Young said. “Designing a bridge, obtaining necessary permits and rights-of-way, moving utility lines, demolishing the existing bridge and building a new one in a little over two years is very fast.”
PennDOT said it was grateful for the patience of commuters who use the bridge, which has an average daily traffic volume of more than 3,600 vehicles.
“PennDOT understands that this may not have been fast enough for those who rely on using it, and thanks everyone for their patience,” Young said.